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Hensley takes over Ward 5 council seat

Hensley takes over Ward 5 council seat

April 17th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in News

Jon Hensley is sworn in Monday by Judge Patricia Joyce as a new Ward 5 councilman during a City Council meeting at the Jefferson City Municipal Court.

Photo by Emil Lippe /News Tribune.

About two weeks after residents voted Jon Hensley as the new Jefferson City Ward 5 Councilman, he was sworn in Monday night.

"I look forward to working with all of you (and) it's an honor and privilege to serve the voters and all the residents in the Fifth Ward," Hensley said after he and the re-elected council members were sworn in.

Hensley replaced former Ward 5 Councilman Larry Henry, who did not run for re-election due to his expanding career.

Before Henry stepped down from City Council, council members spoke their thanks, using words like "soar," "heart," "rock," and "passionate" to describe him and his leadership.

"It was a really big honor and pleasure to serve the City of Jefferson and an extra special thanks to the residents of the Fifth Ward because without them, I wouldn't be sitting in this seat for six years," Henry said.

Along with voting in Hensley, voters re-elected Ward 1 Councilman Rick Prather, Ward 2 Councilman Rick Mihalevich, Ward 3 Councilwoman Erin Wiseman and Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater.

Monday night, the City Council unanimously approved a motion directing city staff to draft a use tax ordinance potentially for the August ballot after small business owners said there was an unfair playing field when competing with online retailers.

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With a few local business owners in the audience showing their support, Gary Wilbers of Ascend Business Strategies urged the council to implement a use tax to help local businesses have a fair chance competing with online companies. A use tax is a sales tax on goods purchased by Missouri residents from out-of-state vendors where the purchaser pays the tax instead of the seller.

"Online sales from out-of-state companies are hurting the viability of our local small businesses," Wilbers said. "I believe if we want our city to continue to grow, we're going to need a strong retail front in our community and I believe our local retailers deserve that support."

City staff plan to present a use tax ordinance in May that, if passed by the council, would be voted on by residents in August.

Missouri and Cole County have use taxes.

Education would be key, Wilbers and other council members said. Wilbers suggested the council create a committee for the sole purpose of educating residents of the use tax, if the council wished to move forward with it.

"It's something that today, if they go into a retail store, they pay it, but I don't think they understand that when they buy online that we miss those revenues and that affects our retailers right here because it doesn't make it fair," Wilbers said.

In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court said cities can collect sales tax on out-of-state motor vehicle purchases only if the cities have local use taxes, so Jefferson City must either receive voter approval to continue the sales tax on out-of-state motor vehicle purchases or pass a use tax.

If the city does neither, it will no longer receive sales tax on out-of-state vehicle purchases, losing $240,000 annually, Finance Department Director Margie Mueller said last July.

November 2018 is the deadline to enact the local use tax.

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The council heard a $283,254 contract with Jviation Inc. on Monday to conduct a master plan for the Jefferson City Memorial Airport.

If approved by the council, a grant amendment between the city and Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission would fund 90 percent of the project cost — $257,178. The grant requires a local 10 percent match of $26,076. City staff said this match is funded through the Capital Improvement Sales Tax.

The plan would outline the airport's goals over the next 15-20 years. The current master plan is from 1992.

Also Monday, the council suspended the rules to approve a $34,910 contract with Paladin Data Systems for code enforcement software. The new software would contain a citizens portal, connect to MidMoGIS and allow city code enforcers to file paperwork and reports while in the field.

The council also approved three local historic landmarks — 130 E. High St., 720 E. High St. and 1213 Elmerine Ave. Property owners can apply for local historic landmark designations annually, and the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission must approve it before it goes to the City Council for final approval. The commission approved the three nominations last month.